Frequently Asked Questions

What is Title IX?

Title IX is a federal law that protects individuals from sex discrimination in any education program or activity receiving federal financial assistance.

Isn't Title IX just about athletics?

No, not entirely. Title IX addresses discrimination based on sex/gender. Title IX considers sexual harassment and sexual violence as forms of sex/gender discrimination and it requires that all incidents of sexual harassment and sexual violence be viewed as discrimination and be investigated.

Does Title IX protect all students from sexual violence?

Yes. Title IX protects all students from sex discrimination, including sexual violence.  Any student can experience sexual violence: from elementary to professional school students; male and female students; straight, gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender students; part-time and full-time students; students with and without disabilities; and students of different races and national origins.

All Campus Alerts and Notifications

When does St. Thomas issue all campus notifications about sexual assault?

Depending on the situation, St. Thomas will communicate a sexual assault report to the community in one of two ways: through Clery-mandates emergency notification or timely warning, or through a notification email from the Title IX Coordinator. Emergency notifications and timely warnings are requirements of the Clery Act, which provides specific guidance for when universities must notify the entire campus community of a crime, significant emergency or dangerous situation. The details of these requirements can be found in the 2016 Clery Handbook for Campus Safety here, or see excerpts from the handbook below.

In any emergency, including when the University of St. Thomas learns about an incident involving a reported sexual assault, members of the University Action and Response Team (UART) meet to determine immediate actions required to protect the parties involved and to further assess risk to the St. Thomas community. This may include providing transportation to an area hospital or coordinating with Public Safety and local law enforcement. A risk assessment will also be conducted to determine if a campus notification is required under the Clery Act. The safety of those involved and the community as a whole is a priority in each and every situation.

Beginning in Spring 2017, the University instituted a pilot notification program for reports of sexual assault. Through that program, the Title IX Coordinator will send an email to students, faculty, and staff when a report of sexual assault is received that involves a member of the St. Thomas community.  The email will generally be sent within one week of receiving the report, and keeping in mind important considerations like the impact on the victim, privacy and due process, and assuring the ability to conduct an appropriate investigation.  This notification program does not replace emergency notifications or timely warnings required by the Clery Act.

 

From the 2016 Handbook for Campus Safety and Security Reporting:

When is an emergency notification necessary?

Under the Clery Act, every institution is required to immediately notify the campus community upon confirmation of a significant emergency or dangerous situation occurring on the campus that involves an immediate threat to the health or safety of students or employees. An “immediate” threat as used here includes an imminent or impending threat, such as an approaching forest fire, or a fire currently raging in one of your buildings.

Timely Warnings:

The Clery Act requires you to alert the campus community to certain crimes in a manner that is timely and will aid in the prevention of similar crimes. Although the Clery Act doesn’t define “timely,” the intent of a warning regarding a criminal incident(s) is to enable people to protect themselves. This means that a warning should be issued as soon as pertinent information is available.

Why is the notification program for sexual assault reports a pilot program?

The University is committed to continuing to improve our efforts to prevent and respond to incidents of sexual assault, and carefully considered the potential benefits and drawbacks to a notification system for reports of sexual assault. A few of these are considered in the table below:

 

Potential Benefits

Potential Drawbacks

Communicates to the entire community that sexual assault is a serious issue and St. Thomas acknowledges and responds when people in our community are impacted.

Notifications are incident-specific. This may compromise confidentiality because community members may attempt to identify involved individuals, and there is potential to interfere with a pending university or police investigation.

Makes the entire community aware that sexual assaults happen at St. Thomas. It increases awareness that our community is not immune to this type of violence.

The decision for victims to report sexual assault to St. Thomas or the police may be impacted if campus notification is made in all circumstances.  Some victims may be less likely to report an assault if they know an all-campus notification will be issued, even if they know that no identifying information will be used in the notification.

When St. Thomas issues notifications for less serious incidents such as stolen bikes and there isn’t notification for sexual assaults, it can send a message that sexual assaults don’t happen at St. Thomas or that St. Thomas doesn’t view sexual assaults as seriously as property theft. Both of these perceptions are false, and issuing a notification would aid in correcting these misperceptions.   

Issuing a notification in all cases, even without identifying information of the involved parties, may lead to direct or indirect consequences that are harmful to the victim or the accused. For example, there may be victim blaming statements on social media or in conversations, or attempts to identify or vilify the accused.

 

After careful consideration and consultation with students, faculty, and staff, the University instituted the pilot notification program to increase awareness of sexual assault in our community and to reaffirm our pledge that sexual assault will not be tolerated in our community.  However, the University is committed to ensuring its efforts in combatting sexual violence in our community are effective and do not lead to a decrease in reporting, negatively impact the ability to conduct a proper investigation, interfere with the privacy and due process rights of all involved, or have an impact on the individuals involved that is disproportionate to the perceived community benefit of such information.  The University will assess the impact of this program on an ongoing basis, and invites community feedback via the Title IX Feedback page.

St. Thomas Sexual Misconduct Policy

The policy states that a person who is incapacitated may not consent to sexual activity. How do I know if a person is incapacitated?

A person who is incapacitated cannot understand the "who, what, when, where, why, or how" of a sexual situation.  Incapacitation may result from a mental or physical disability, impairment, or injury, the voluntary or involuntary use of alcohol or drugs, or other causes. Alcohol or drug use are the most common causes for incapacitation on college and university campuses.  Incapacitation is tricky, because it occurs differently in different individuals.  Just a few of the factors that impact incapacitation are: rate and quantity of alcohol consumption or drug use, physical size, genetics, and whether the person has taken other drugs (including prescribed medications).

When the University is determining whether a person is incapacitated for purposes of determining responsibility for sexual misconduct, it will look at all the facts and circumstances, not just the number of drinks or drugs consumed.  

There are some common signs to look for to determine if another person might be incapacitated or approaching incapacitation.  These include: 

  • Impaired control over physical movements and/or loss of coordination (for example, stumbling, swaying, loss of balance, shaky equilibrium, or difficulty walking or standing);
  • Significant confusion regarding circumstances or surroundings (for example, lack of awareness of where one is, how one got there, or who one is with);
  • Impaired ability to effectively communicate for any reason (for example, slurred speech, difficulty finding words);
  • Repeating the same story or statement multiple times without apparent awareness of the repetition;
  • Inability to dress/undress without assistance;
  • Inability to perform physical or cognitive tasks without assistance;
  • Bloodshot, glassy or unfocused eyes;
  • Vomiting; or
  • Inability to understand some or all of the following questions: “Do you know where you are?” “Do you know how you got here?” “Do you know what is happening?” “Do you know whom you are with?”

As a student at St. Thomas, am I protected from sex discrimination?

Yes, it is unlawful to discriminate against St. Thomas students because of their sex.

Is it possible to be sexually harassed/assaulted by someone of the same gender?

Yes. If you have been subjected to unwanted sexual contact or sexual harassment, your gender and the gender of the alleged perpetrator are irrelevant. Such conduct is prohibited by Title IX.

What is sex discrimination? How is it defined?

Sex discrimination includes sexual harassment, sexual assault, and other forms of sexual misconduct.  The University’s Sexual Misconduct Policy contains definitions of these terms.

What are some examples of sex discrimination, sexual harassment, and sexual assault?

Depending on the particular circumstances, sex discrimination, sexual harassment or sexual assault may include, but is not limited to, the following:

  1. Physical assaults of a sexual nature, such as rape, sexual battery, molestation, or attempts to commit these assaults; and intentional physical conduct that is sexual in nature such as touching, pinching, patting, grabbing, poking, or brushing against another individual's body.     
  2. Offering or implying an employment-related reward (such as a promotion, raise, or different work assignment) or an education-related reward (such as a better grade, a letter of recommendation, favorable treatment in the classroom, assistance in obtaining employment, grants or fellowships, or admission to any educational program or activity) in exchange for sexual favors or submission to sexual conduct.
  3. Threatening or taking a negative employment action (such as termination, demotion, denial of an employee benefit or privilege, or change in working conditions) or negative educational action (such as giving an unfair grade, withholding a letter of recommendation, or withholding assistance with any educational activity) or intentionally making the individual's job or academic work more difficult because sexual conduct is rejected.
  4. The use or display in the classroom or workplace, including electronic, of pornographic or sexually harassing materials such as posters, photos, cartoons or graffiti without pedagogical justification.
  5. Unwelcome sexual advances, repeated propositions or requests for a sexual relationship to an individual who has previously indicated that such conduct is unwelcome, or sexual gestures, noises, remarks, jokes, questions, or comments about a person's sexuality or sexual experience. Such conduct between peers must be sufficiently severe, persistent, or pervasive that it creates an educational or working environment that is hostile or abusive. A single incident involving severe misconduct may rise to the level of harassment.

Additional examples are listed in the University’s Sexual Misconduct Policy.

What should I do if I think I have been discriminated against?

You should speak up. The best way to stop any kind of discrimination is to tell someone who is trained to hear complaints. Contact information for the University’s Trained Responders is below.  Trained Responders will provide advice and assistance to Complainants and other individuals who contact them and help ensure that UST responds appropriately and in accordance with applicable law.

Title IX Coordinator
Danielle E. Hermanny
Room 247, Anderson Student Center
dhermanny@stthomas.edu
(651) 962-6882

Dean of Students
Room 241, Anderson Student Center
www.stthomas.edu/deanofstudents
(651) 962-6050

Human Resources Partners
Room 217, Aquinas Hall
www.stthomas.edu/hr
(651) 962-6510

Department of Public Safety
St. Paul: Morrison Hall, 1st Floor
Minneapolis: School of Law, 1st Floor
www.stthomas.edu/psps
(651) 962-5100

If you have personally experienced sexual misconduct and wish to keep details of the incident completely confidential, you are urged to contact a Confidential Resource. Contact Information is available in Section IX of the University’s Sexual Misconduct Policy.

What happens after I file a complaint?

Trained Responders are responsible for initiating the response and resolution process promptly upon receipt of a Report or Complaint of sexual misconduct and will notify and share the Report or Complaint with the Title IX Coordinator. A Response Manager(s) will be assigned based on the identities of the Reporting Party and Responding Party and will also consider whether interim action is reasonably necessary or appropriate to protect the parties and the broader UST community. The Response Manager will meet with the Reporting Party and make a determination to proceed with a formal process or an alternative resolution process.  More information on those processes can be found in the University's Sexual Misconduct Policy in Appendix A.

If an incident of sexual violence occurs off campus, can the University investigate?

Yes, if the incident occurs at a St. Thomas  event, involves a St. Thomas student, staff member, or faculty member, or has some other tie to St. Thomas, then St. Thomas can investigate and provide a resolution.   

How does St. Thomas respond to sexual violence when the Responding Party is not affiliated with the school?

The appropriate response will be different depending on the circumstances and level of control St. Thomas has over the Responding Party.  At minimum, St. Thomas will conduct an inquiry into what occurred and will report the incident to the Responding Party's school and encourage them to take appropriate action to prevent further sexual violence in their own community. St. Thomas will also notify the Reporting Party of any right to file a complaint with the Responding Party's school or local law enforcement.  St Thomas may also decide to take other action to protect the Reporting Party and/or the St. Thomas community.  In all cases, St. Thomas will work with the Reporting Party to provide support and resources.

How does St. Thomas handle sexual violence complaints where the Reporting Party and Responding Party are members of the same sex/gender?

St. Thomas' obligation to respond appropriately to sexual violence complaints is the same regardless of the sex or gender of the parties involved.  Title IX protects all students from sexual violence, regardless of the sex/gender of the alleged Reporting Party or Responding Party, including when they are members of the same sex or gender.